Library system looks to raise awareness

Bob Cox writes "One From North Carolina. In its largest marketing blitz ever, the Cumberland County library system will give away token gifts and entertain hundreds of politicians, business leaders and military commanders this winter. The goal is to raise awareness of the public library system and persuade community leaders to better fund it.

The $59,000 marketing campaign follows a national survey of 17,000 people by the National Endowment for Arts, which found that fewer adults are reading books in their leisure time. The endowment in June said 46.7 percent of those polled in 2002 had read a book in the past year, compared with almost 57 percent 22 years ago."

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Too bad (some) reporters don't read

"The endowment in June said 46.7 percent of those polled in 2002 had read a book in the past year, compared with almost 57 percent 22 years ago."

The NEA survey said nothing of the sort. Even if you accept the NEA methodology, what it said was that 47% (46.7%) read literature as defined by NEA--that is, fiction, but not essays or any sort of nonfiction--during the previous eyar.

And, actually, even that overstates the negative: NEA deliberately excluded all but leisure reading. Read 10 books for your literature survey? That's not reading, that's an assignment.

The leisure reading of all books supposedly declined from 61% in 1992 to 57% in 2002. Which, despite the "Reading at Risk" title of the NEA report, means that more Americans read books for leisure (excluding all other reasons to read books) in 2002 than in 1992. We're all dooommed!

Has nothing to do with the main story, of course, and it's good that a library is marketing itself.

If you want lots more grouchy commentary on NEA's scare campaign, see Cites & Insights 4:10, August 2004; it starts right on page 1.

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